Foundation Corona Committee, 98th meeting on April 1st, 2022
Scott Ritter (fmr Marine intel, UN WMD inspector)
in conversation with Viviane Fischer, Reiner Fuellmich, Alex Thomson
(Original language: English)
[Transcript from Team corona-ausschuss-info.com + Ed]
Viviane Fischer: [02:32:09]
Yeah, so now we’re going to talk to Scott Ritter. He’s a former Marine… Corps intelligence officer, and he served with the UN, implementing arms control treaties in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq, overseeing the disarmament of… WMDs–
That’s weapons of mass destruction.
Oh, weapons of mass destruction, as a UN weapons inspector from 1991 to through 1998, and he later became an outspoken critic of the US foreign policy in the Middle East.
Scott, are you with us? Hang on, maybe not. And also Alex Thompson is with us, because he has the expertise to guide us and help us out when we don’t know what question to ask. We do know a lot– we have a lot of questions, but I would very much like to talk to Scott Ritter now, because I have seen some video clips with him and he’s one of the most interesting people and one of the most knowledgeable people with respect to the current crisis in Ukraine. Scott are you with us?
I am. Good morning.
Oh wow, great. Scott, I just mentioned I saw a great video, a great interview that you did for Rick Walker and Brendan Kennedy to Canadians. And I… all of us, were really impressed, because it… sort of confirmed what many geopoliticians had told us about the situation in Ukraine. Meaning: we’re only seeing… one little piece of the picture, which is probably falsified by the mainstream media, all of the geopoliticians who we spoke with told us there is another side to this story. And one of the best people to talk to is Scott Ritter. I– yeah, go ahead.
Scott Ritter: [02:34:24]
No, you have me. So I’m… glad to be here, and I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you… have.
Yes. One of the things you said in that video, in that interview, is that you would not for a second deny that the Ukrainian troops are very competent. They have been– they have received billions of dollars from NATO or the US over the last, I don’t know, decade or so. Well trained, lots of soldiers. On the other hand, they cannot win this war. Why is that?
Scott Ritter: [02:35:02]
Well, I mean military math is… why. You know, I’ll bring up you know a movie that– or at least a movie reference, or a… piece of history that has become, you know, sort of myth. King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae. I mean,
these– you know, depending on which movie you saw, these guys are, you know, all stud warriors. They can… thrust spears better than anybody, hooyah better than anybody. But at the end of the day, when a millionaire arrows come out of the sky, 300 really brave Spartans die.
The Ukrainians are not the Spartans. They’re very good soldiers. They’re very well equipped, and many of them are fighting for a cause that… they believe in, either a right-wing ideology that many in the world find odious, or for their homeland, which many in the world can sympathize with. But either way, they’re… fighting for a cause that… allows them to overcome some of the morale-based issues that usually cause armed forces trouble, like when you get hungry, when you get thirsty, when you run low on ammunition, when you’re suffering casualties. These are the things that tend to break militaries. Thef Ukrainians have shown a surprising resilience, the… ability to stay on and fight. But even despite all this, at the end of the day, military math is military math. The Russians have been able– through a very brilliant campaign that emphasizes some of the basic tenets of maneuver warfare– to shape the battlefield. And Vladimir Putin alluded to this when he… spoke about initiating the special military operation.
He said, “[Originally, all we wanted to do is go in and secure the Donbass. But then we were confronted by this mass of Ukrainian troops from 60 and 100 thousand that have accumulated right on the border of Donbass. But what do we do about them? And if we focus our effort on them, what do we do about the rest of the Ukrainian military? All 200 thousand– let’s say 100 thousand– there’s still 160 000 more out there in Ukraine, with reserves, that… could amount to another 300 000. You throw on the popular militias that they mobilize another 100, 200 thousand. There’s a lot of Ukrainians out there, And if you just focus on the Donbass battle, you’ve ceded the initiative to Ukrainians to respond in a way that benefits them.]”
So Russia had to shape the larger battlefield by threatening Kyiv, diverting Ukrainian resources there by securing a land bridge that… facilitated lines of communication between Crimea and the main part of Russia. That involved, you know, seizing Mariupol, you know, etcetera, by carrying out a very extensive strategic air campaign that neutralized the Ukrainian logistics of command and control. This was phase 1 of the operation, and Russia executed this very well. But a lot of people for– what I’m talking about right now is what I call big air war. Strategic thinking, with big arrow results.
A lot of people get caught down to what what I call the little arrow war. That means: when you get down in the weeds, war is ugly. And when you fight an army that is as capable as Ukrainians ugly things are going to happen to you. This isn’t all about Russia dominating the tactical situation 100 percent. It’s actually– most… combat is a 50-50 proposition going in. People give as well as they take, until some advantage is achieved on the battlefield, whether it be a maneuver advantage, a firepower advantage or something of that nature that tilts the favor– the balance in your favor– and then you gradually get control and move. But very rarely in modern war against a capable enemy, you overwhelm them immediately.
It’s a grinding battle in sweat. There’e doing to be videotapes of Russian columns that have been destroyed. There’s going to be videotapes of destroyed Russian equipment after Russian troops, dead Russian soldiers. And the media has played these over and over again, creating the illusion of a Russian defeat. But if you walk away from the videos and look at the map, you’ll see that it’s a strategic Russian victory that’s taking place. It’s unfolding slower than it would have if the Russians used their traditional doctrine, which emphasizes heavy firepower in massed attack. Though the Russians made a decision going in that they were not going to do this, because that would result in massive civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.
So Russia has taken a lighter approach, one that actually puts them at a tactical disadvantage. One of the reasons why the Russians are suffering casualties is that they have forgone their advantage in the application of firepower. Because if you pound the Ukrainian soldiers to death, you’re also carrying Ukrainian civilians to death, and the Russians have said “We don’t want to do that yet.”
Are civilians dying? Absolutely. That’s a tragic outcome of war. But when you look again, military math. In the study of military history, when you study modern war, generally speaking the ratio of dead civilians to dead combatants comes down to roughly 1 to 1. It’ll, you know, go up to 1.3 to 1, 1.2 to 1 at its center. But roughly 1 to 1. That is, for every civilian killed, there’s a dead combatant, whether it be a Russian or Ukrainian.
Here we have a situation where for every civilian killed, you have around five or six dead combatants. What does that tell you? It tells you that the fighting that’s taking place is being done in a manner that seeks to avoid civilian– unnecessary civilian casualties. Now people say, well what about all the residential neighborhoods that are being bombed? Now we come to the problem. They’re being bombed, not because Russia says, Hey I want to bomb a residential area. They’re being bombed because the Ukrainians have decided to turn that residential area into a military target, either through making its line of defense there, or porting logistics– equipment, etcetera– that requires an attack.
So what casualties are taking place on the battlefield aren’t because the Russians have decided to undertake a course of action that kills civilians. It’s because the Ukrainians have decided to create a battlefield where the civilians live. And this is problematic, because the international humanitarian law, the laws of war, prohibit the use of human shields.
And this is exactly what the Ukrainians are doing. By allowing civilians to be integrated into the battlefield the Ukrainians are creating a de facto human shield. And, you know, so when all these allegations out here about war crimes this, war crimes that– at the end of the day, if you dig deep into every single one of these issues, you’ll find more often than not that the problem isn’t Russia, but the problem is Ukraine.
And again, this all plays into a perception that’s being portrayed by the media that is negative towards what Russia is doing. I’m not here to cheer on the Russians. They made a… geopolitical strategic decision that they have to explain to the world at some point. They’ve tried to justify it through Article 51, preemptive collective self-defense. I believe they have a case, but it’s a tough case to make. And it– someday they’re going to have to make that case.
But– and, you know, I’m not sitting here saying that Ukraine doesn’t have sovereign rights– they do. I’m just talking about the reality on the ground. Regardless of which side you’re on, the reality on the ground is that Russia is winning this conflict. Moreover, Russia will win this conflict.
Reiner Füllmich: [02:43:12]
You said in that aforementioned video that, right from the start, it was clear that Russia wasn’t… really trying to take over Ukraine. If they had wanted that, they would have had to go in– and again, this is military math– they would have had to go in with a force of soldiers three times as many as the Ukrainians, meaning 1.8 million soldiers, I believe, because the Ukrainians have some 600000 fighters.
And they didn’t. They came in… with 200000 soldiers, which means that they must have– because they’re not stupid. You said Putin, like him or not, but he’s a smart person; he’s good at what he’s doing. So he didn’t make a mistake. Rather, he has a different objective, meaning he wants to de-Nazify Ukraine, and he wants to protect those people who are Russia-friendly, which is a large part of the population. Is that a correct assessment?
Scott Ritter: [02:44:20]
Yes, I did– 26 percent, I believe, of the population of Ukraine is ethnic Russian, and then a larger percentage, you know, speak Russian as the first language. There’s another objective, too, which– military objective, which is the demilitarization.
That is, the fact that the Ukrainian military had become a de facto proxy of NATO. Russia has decided that they will not allow this NATO-like structure to exist on its borders, and therefore they’re going to dismantle it. It could have been done voluntarily, or it can be done the way it’s being done right now, which is through the application of extreme violence.
And then both his military objectives are attached to a overall political objectives which is the… neutrality of Ukraine, that Ukraine will not be a NATO member ever in perpetuity. Not going to happen. That’s what precipitated this conflict to begin with. This is the expansion of NATO eastward, you know, despite assurances given back in 1990 to Mikhail Gorbachev that… they wouldn’t take advantage of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Now the Warsaw Pact didn’t collapse when they did, but Germany unified, and that was the beginning of the end. And everybody knew that when they talked about “not one inch eastward” that it was not just Germany they were talking about. They were talking about what would happen eventually when the rest of the Warsaw Pact, you know, dissolved, you know.
But this… expansion was deemed to be a threat by Russia with… just cause. NATO keeps calling itself a defensive alliance, but the fact of the matter is: in recent history, NATO has been an offensive alliance. Not just an offensive alliance, but an offensive alliance that’s geared towards regime change. The attack on Serbia was designed to remove Slovodan Milosevich from power. The attack on Libya was designed to remove Moammar Khadaffi from power. The reinforcement of Iraq in 2004, a training mission, certified a military campaign that was designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power. And of course, the… efforts in Afghanistan, being nation-building in nature, were in support of regime change of the Taliban.
So it’s not just that NATO is an offensive organization. NATO is an offensive organization whose military objectives almost always include regime change. So now you have this expansive offensive- oriented military alliance moving toward your border and they deem you to be enemy number one. They don’t use the term “enemy”, but you’re protagonist number one. You are the reason NATO exists, in Russia. S as the Russians watch this happen, you know, they… basically say, “We’re not going to swallow this poison pill. We’re going to swat it away. We’re going to change the dynamic.”
And one of the things the Russians– one of their goals that go beyond Ukraine is to redefine a European security framework. They’ve outlined what that would look like in a treaty, a draft treaty they submitted NATO and the United States December of 2021. And this is also one of their objectives, that once the issue of Ukraine is resolved, Russia then will turn to the issue of NATO. If NATO thinks for a second that this crisis is over, they’re… wrong. And this crisis will be multifaceted in nature. It has numerous components, one of which is the economic component. I think today is the day that the gas is going to get shut off around, throughout Europe if they don’t pay… for it in rubles. If the… German chancellor hasn’t figured it out yet, he committed political and economic suicide by aligning himself with the United States on this… issue. And I think the rest of the so-called democratic leaders of Europe are going to figure this out, too.
The wonderful thing about democracy is that you’re ultimately held accountable to your constituents. And if you created this set of circumstances that have industry shutting down, heat being turned off, you know, your country ceasing to function normally– I just I… always recall the words of James Carville, who was bill Clinton’s campaign adviser back when Bill Clinton was running for office, running for president, early 1990s. Clinton was time out for policy and all this stuff. And Carville said, “No. It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s saying you need to worry about if you want to get in power. People vote their pocketbooks. And right now, the pocketbooks of Europe are about to become empty, and the Russians know this.
So the Russians are going to be pressing forward advantages. Not just a geopolitical advantage; they’re shapeing Ukraine in terms of military– demonstrated military supremacy. Because this isn’t just about beating Ukraine. Russia is defeating NATO. This is a huge embarrassment for NATO. NATO set Ukraine up to fail. This is on the heels of yet another NATO embarrassment in Afghanistan. So NATO is coming out of this not looking strong. Don’t– you know, Biden, Joe Biden can come and give all the speeches he wants to in Poland and in Brussels. But the reality is: NATO is impotent. They look impotent. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to react.
And now they’re talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars in beefing up their military to respond to this new Russian reality, when their economy is about the tank. Where do they think they’re going to get that money? Do they think American troops are just going to magically appear on their soil? They don’t understand the modern reality of America. You want American troops, you pay for American troops. Because we’re going to (A) have to gin up new brigades. We only have 9 armored brigades in the United States military. We have just pivoted on the geopolitical level confronting China in the Pacific, which means many of these brigades are earmarked for potential conflict in South Korea. And who knows what we’re going to gin up regarding Taiwan.
So it’s not like we have a bunch of armored brigades sitting around that we can just willy-nilly throw into Europe. The last time we confronted Russia it wasn’t about armored brigades, it was about armored divisions. We had things called the Second Armored Division. We don’t have that any more. We had the Third Armored Division. We don’t have that any more. We don’t have– we have two armored divisions. That’s the First Armored Division and the First Cavalry Division. And then we have several armored brigades that are attached to mechanized infantry divisions. We don’t fight at the division level any more. We don’t fight at corps level. Guess who does. The Russians. They’re proving it right now.
So, you know, NATO is talking about the beefing up its security on the eastern flank. With what troops? Who’s going to do this, the 82nd airborne? They are road bumps. I have a lot of respect for soldiers who jump out of airplanes. It’s pretty cool. But when they land on the ground, there’s still just an infantryman with a rifle, maybe some mortars, maybe some Javelin missiles.
That’s it! and when the Russians come at them with the First Guards tank army, they die instantly. You think the Polish military is ready to stand up to the Russians? You think the Romanian military is ready to stand up to the Russians? You think any of the Baltic militaries are ready stand– You think the four battle groups that NATO has assembled in the Baltic xxxxx are ready to stand up to the Russians? They’re not, because they’re small, and they don’t have any depth. When they get into battle– war is a grinding, bloody process, as Ukraine has proven.
And when you take a reinforced battalion-size battle group and throw it into combat, and it grinds down, and you don’t have any reserves– it’s over. It’s over. They can fight bravely, but they will die bravely. They will be taken prisoner bravely. That’s the reality of NATO today. And now NATO is confronted with, you know,… they– they’ve… had 30-plus years of leisure activity, living off of the fat of American military strength. The German army used to be something to applaud. I’m not… a fan of German militarism, But during the Cold War the west German army was a very competent army, a very large army, with large armored formations. Today, the German army is a joke, a literal joke.
They cannot maintain their forces. In order to put tht battle group into Lithuania– my God, German tanks in Lithuania. Who would’ve thought it could ever happen again? I mean, just the vision of that alone tellss you the Germans are incompetent.
Scott Ritter: [02:53:27]
But now you come the fact they want to put this battalion there– the two armored brigades that they had, they had to cannibalize, because they can’t get the brigade out of the caserne– because nothing works, they haven’t maintained it. And even if they got it out, they don’t know how to fight. So who are the Germans fooling? And now they want to spend a 100 billion dollars to magically recreate the Wehrmacht? I mean it’s crazy, crazy talk. And to what purpose? The Russians do not want to re-fight the battle of Berlin. So Berliners, you’re safe. The Russians aren’t coming for you, unless you push it.
Unless we push it. Unless we push it, and some of this has been happening. Some of this push has–
Scott Ritter: [02:54:12]
All the Russians want is a return to the 1997 NATO structure.
They’re not saying that Poland and the Baltics andRomania and Bulgaria have to leave NATO. No, Russia doesn’t care. Stay. But what they don’t want is NATO infrastructure brought into these countries close to the Russian border. So they want to re– If NATO would just put on their thinking caps, they would recognize that this is sound. This is– because anything other than that recreates the Cold War, which– (A) Russia is ready right now to fight. And NATO is not.
So why do you want to create the conditions for something you are not ready to do, and frankly speaking, will never be ready to do, because Russia is getting ready to shut down the European economy.
And how are you going to pay for this militarization? And even if you do this, does Europe really want to totally surrender itself to the United States? Because that’s what’s about to happen.
Scott Ritter: [02:55:15]
If Europe buys into this new NATO etcetera, Europe is going to be, you know, subordinating itself politically, militarily and economically to the United States. Who’s making money out of this whole shift to gas? It’s not Russia, it’s the United States. If Europe stops buying Russian gas and starts buying American gas, even if the America could provide it, in the quantities that Russia– that… Europe needed, Europe’s going to be paying through the nose for this gas. It’s going to be more expensive.
So if this is really the direction Europe wants to go, so be it. But if they were smart they’d consider not only the reality of what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine, but what’s happening, what’s getting ready to happen economically, and frankly politically, to the rest of Europe because of NATO’s irresponsible expansion eastward.
Alex Thomson: [02:56:06]
May I ask, Scott, at this moment about the thorny issue of Russian troop morale. This seems to be one of the most contested elements of the war in propaganda right now. We see a large amount of Ukrainian signals intelligence, rebroadcast by western media, claiming that there are mass defections and mutinies among the naval infantry and the ground troops. Perhaps an over-egged claim that many of the troops are poorly trained and equipped, Russian Muslims from the Caucasus and Central Asia or the Siberian Muslim belt. And that these these men have no affinity with what is going on. A lot of desperate “call Mama” type signals intelligence, suggesting that the Russians aren’t even getting a chance to engage Ukrainian eyeballs because– in some calls that have been disseminated, the claim is “Before we even see them they hit us with their grass.”
Now how much of this can you take at face value, particularly given that the boss of my old institution in the British signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, said just a couple of days ago in Australia– and very interesting that a single-source intelligence boss would even dare to say this; he wouldn’t have done it in my time– but he is now saying that the claim is the Russians are not able to win this war, and Putin’s bosses, military bosses, are afraid to tell him the truth. This claim has also been echoed, by the way, by the incoming chief of the British General Staff, Admiral Tony Radakin. How much credence do you set in this? Why would the claim be made at all? And how much of a picture can you get from signals intelligence on its own, as to Russian morale?
Scott Ritter: [02:57:50]
Let’s start with the… larger picture. Why would they be doing this? Especially why would the head of GCHQ be speaking about intelligence matters of some of the most sensitive sources of intelligence imaginable. I mean, the… you know, you and I both have, I assume, have worked in the sigint field, and we understand that when you get, when you finally are able to get into a target, through sigint, the last thing you want to do is give any hint that this has occurred. Because in an instant, all that goes away. In sight of that’s satellite-driven, you’ve lost billions of dollars. If it’s tactical-driven, you’ve lost hundreds if not thousands of hours of trying to position yourself to exploit the… target. And you may– there’s no guarantee you’re going to get it back.
So right off the bat, why is he doing this? And the answer is, I believe, not to reinforce the narrative coming from the mainstream media, about, you know, the demise of the Russians and stuff. It’s to– it’s part of a larger, broader information war that’s taking place in the west, targeting the Russian population. The… gold objective– if you combine information war, you create the… concept of inevitable Russian military defeat, combined with the economic sanctions that are damaging, to create the… conclusion that the problem isn’t NATO, the problem is Putin.
The goal of the United States was put out by Biden. He blurted it out. Regime change.
That’s always been the goal. We’ve never… shied from it. Michael McFaul [Rus. Amb. 2012-2014] admits it. If you take a look at the Russian reset in 2009 it was about regime change, to replace Vladimir Putin with Dmitry Medvedev. 100 percent regime change. And when it was failing, Biden, then vice president, flew to Moscow on March 3rd, I believe, of 2011 meeting with political opposition leaders that are paid for by the United States and Great Britain. And he said, “If I was Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t run for office again. Because it’s not going to work out for you.” What are you doing? That’s regime change. It’s not violent regime change, but it’s still regime change. Hillary Clinton spoke out against Putin’s party during the parliamentary elections in December of 2011, causing Vladimir Putin to chastise her and say “You’re interfering with our… affairs, trying to shape a presidential election.”
So the goal is regime change, and this is information war. It’s trying to create an image of Russian incompetence, military incompetence, military impotence, and… defacto, they’re never going to win. So that the Russian people start to question their leadership. I don’t think it’s working, because Putin’s popularity rating just keeps going up.
But now we come to: is this true? Because it’s one thing about the objective, and now we come down to the nuts and bolts of the intelligence: is what they’re saying true? I don’t know– did you work– Alex, you don’t have to answer too much, but did you work the Soviet target or the Russian target?
Yes it was on target.
Did you have respect for that target?
Did you view them as themost incompetent people on the face of the earth?
That’s the last term I would use for them.
Scott Ritter: [03:01:24]
Correct. So now I’m going to basically say that to buy into what people are talking about implies that the Russians are the most incompetent people on the face of the earth, when it comes to communications security. Let’s start off with a statement of fact. Every Russian soldier, before they went into Ukraine, stood inspection. And the counter-intelligence people went through every piece of their kit, insuring that there were no personal electronic devices. No Russian soldier has a cell phone in Ukraine, so–
Let me interrupt you just there, Scott. The… shock and awe propaganda of this week from the– nothing from the official Ukrainian MOD [Ministry of Defense], but from these embedded far-right elements, is one of, supposedly a– the corpse of a Russian soldier from which a mobile phone has been extracted. And the troops who dispatched him call Mama and gloat over how he’s now in bits spread over the field. So how does that square with fairly elementary concepts such as you have described which even the west in its better days would have done before sending its troops into enemy territory?
Well, what it… squares is, we’re looking at a very sophisticated information warfare propaganda xxx. First of all, let’s talk about the cell phones. Here in the united States, you might be able to find one or two Luddites who haven’t put in some sort of security code or facial recognition feature or whatever. So the idea that the a Russian soldier (A) has his phone on him. And (B) it’s going to ring and it’s going to say “Mama”. And (C) third parties is going to be able to pick it up and access it. Because my phone, when it rings and says “Moma”, and I hit– you know, I want to answer, it says “Please enter your security code” before the phone– That didn’t happen. It said “Mama”, and he won’t answer. So it tells you it’s a ploy. This is a pure propagandistic ploy.
What… even the Ukrainians have had to admit as… it became clear that their story about cell phones– because the Russian mamss are going, “Wait a minute. A boy has got his phone? How come he’s not calling me?” Because you’ve got a million or 200,000 Russian mamas calling the Ministry of Defense saying, “Why aren’t they calling?” And the Ministry says, “Because they don’t have their cell phones.”
Well, what about that? It’s a lie. Nobody has their cell phones. And the Ukrainians went, “Yeah, it’s not working, so here’s the new story: the Russians are stealing Ukrainian cellphones from the innocent population and then the Russian soldiers are using those cell phones to call home to Mama.
Now again: it’s the same problem. Let’s just say that I’m private Ivan Schmuckatelli, and I decided I want to call home to Mama. So I find a Ukrainian civilian, and I butt-stroke him in the face, and I grab his cell phone. Even if I’m clever enough to take his phone to get his biometrics, or hold it up to his face, or put a pistol to his head and get the security code from– Do I remember that? Because the face only works one time.
Not only that everyone in Eastern Europe uses security codes and mostly Android-based phones as well, but more particularly that for lack of paid call time, mostly they will use the Viber app, the eastern equivalent, the eastern European market equivalent of What’s App. And again there, you’re going to need cell data. And again, the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence service will presumably– I haven’t checked this for myself for my faults– but will presumably have put a blanket ban on calling numbers beginning with country code of plus 7. So there’s another obstacle to these… claims.
Scott Ritter: [03:05:07]
This is just pure fiction. So now we… come down to… the phone calls. So we’ve established that the likelihood of a Russian picking up the phone and calling home to Mama is slim to none. But what about these recorded calls? They’re all fake. They’re… literally all faked. They… are the SBU. and I’ll tell you, it’s not the SBu alone, but even before this war started, the CIA and MI6 was heavily integrated with the… Ukrainian intelligence service.
Extremely heavily, going back 15 years before.
Right, and one of the aspects that’s going on right now is information warfare. The CIA has an entire– well hell: MI6 has a IO imagine what IO stands for: Information Operations. Their whole job is black propaganda. The… CIA, under the Special Activities Group, whatever they call them nowadays in the Directorate of Operations, has a political action element, a component of which is information warfare, information operations. They have been working with the Ukrainians from day one to shape this image. And what we’re looking at is a very sophisticated information operation, where it– with so-called intercepted conversations. They’re not intercepted conversations of secure Russian comms because Russian comms– I… just, I have to laugh, because the implication is that the Russians can’t communicate.
That’s the implication here, that some of these calls are from, you know, subordinate officers calling their superior officers with the most whiny of messages — “We’re hungry, we don’t have any fuel, we’re scared, what are we doing here?” So, absurd in the extreme. Again, xxxxx the Russian target. I have. I can tell you right now that the idea a Russian battalion tactical group getting ready to cross into Ukraine, thinking it’s an exercise–
… is childlike.
They also– thinking that… they don’t know where they’re going is childlike. These troops have been well briefed on several things. One: what their immediate tactical objectives are; how that immediate tactical objective feeds into an overall operational concept; and two: what the rules of engagement are. And this is a critical factor, because– there was a interview with a Russian general a couple days into the war– because people like myself are going, “What are the Russians doing, man? Their doctrine calls for overwhelming artillery fire, and then massed attacks. And what I’m looking at is no artillery fire and these… light probes. What’s going on?”
And what was going on, according to this general, was what they call the Syrian approach. Now again, the western media… will say, “Ah-ha! That proves that the Russians are going to blow Aleppo up level it, bring in chemical weapons and kill civilians, because that’s what we’ve been told the Russians do in Syria. But no. What the Russians do in Syria is surround a civilian population and then give them the opportunity to evacuate with… buses. They evacuated all the jihadists out of the areas around the Damascus in southern Syria and they took them up to [~Iglut], where they’re concentrated now.
So the Russia approach was designed to deliberately avoid unnecessary civilian casualties, which is a stated objective of the Ministry of Defense. They have ordered their troops not to kill– you know, not to target civilians, not to damage civilian infrastructure needlessly. I mean you never target a civilian, but also to be careful about the application of force so you don’t damage the civilian infrastructure. When civilian infrastructures is damaged, it’s because Ukrainians made the decision to turn that into a military target.
But my point here is that these troops are extremely well briefed, extremely well briefed. And we know it. So the idea of this poor, besodden Ivan Schmuckatelli not knowing anything and just hopping in his vehicle and driving along, “Oh my God, I’ve hit a Ukrainian. Hell, crap, they’re firing at me. Damn, everybody’s dying, and oh, oh, oh, woe is me– Call Mama.”
No, that… just isn’t happening at all. There, you know, there– we, and we know this, because we’ve seen the Russian– they captured the Russian tanks. And if you look at the Russian tanks, there are secure comms in the Russian tanks. So we know they have secure comms. So if the Russian tanks have secure comms, they ain’t using a ceBecause (A) they don’t have a cell phone; and (B) it’s the dumbest thing to do. Because the second you use a cell phone, you’ve given away your location to a modern opponent who is out there with electronic warfare capability hacking cell calls, geolocating, calling in fire.
That’s how we’re killing a lot of these idiots that– that’s how the Russians are killing a lot of these idiots that are torturing Russian soldiers etcetera, because they… use a cell phone, and then they post it on social media. And that creates a signal that then gets intercepted, identifies who did it, and then Russian special forces, who are very good, by the way, come in, grab them, and it, it’s… not going to be a good day for these people.
But my… point is, to get back to the basics here, the… whole cell phone thing, the whole intercepted phone call thing, just doesn’t stand the smell test. It… you would have to assume that the Russians are incompetent, that the Russians didn’t spend billions of dollars upgrading their comms. You know, in 2008 Russia went to war against Georgia. Short little five-day war, that they were horrible in. They were awful, and they knew it. The Russian generals afterwards said, “Man, we’re lucky.” Because the Georgians knew how to fight. They Georgians were trained by marines. And the Georgian were doing some wonderful stuff tactically, really bad stuff operationally, and a bad strategic idea to go in.
But tactically, they were doing well. But they… lacked the mass, so the Russians were able to come in with artillery and armor, and grind them down and… move on. But the Russians were saying, “We’re not that good. We’re really actually pretty bad. We’re lucky that the Georgians didn’t have more capability. Because it could have been a different outcome on the battlefield.”
So they started a dramatic modernization program and we saw some of this in 2014, with the little green men and stuff. But even then the Russians weren’t all there. Around 2016, they started to reorganize the military, going away from a pure brigade model. Now bringing back, for instance, the First Guards tank army, the twentieth binarms army, large, offensive–
This is the key, though, isn’t it, Scott. It’s combined arms, really, because, you know, from the end– beginning of the Cold War onwards, they had inherited the operational level of warfare, which had largely won them the Eastern Front, and then combined arms, which is largely regarded as a NATO, largely UK-Canadian-US speciality until recently.
But I think you, you’re making a good case here that from about the middle of last decade, Russia has been the master of combined arms ops.
Not… just Russia is the master of combined arms arms– look…, I used to be the master of combined arms operation. When I was in the Marine Corps, you know, I… came up as a junior officer when the Marine Corps was embracing maneuver warfare in a big way from a conceptual standpoint the philosophy of it green. General Al Gray was the Commandant, and he brought it down. And I spent two and a half years in 29 Palms, California mastering maneuver warfare, combined arms operations at an artillery battalion. And we were… self-propelled, and we spent 250 days a year in the field firing live ammunition all the time. And we were masters of our profession.
Well, guess what. We don’t do that any more. The last 20, years we’ve been running around in Afghanistan and Iraq doing low-intensity conflict, counter– counterinsurgency operations. We were very good at kicking down the doors of civilian houses, shooting civilians. We were very good at dropping drone strikes on wedding parties. We’re not very good at combined arms operations, because we don’t do it any more. Now we’re trying to rapidly do it, but we don’t have the military to do it any more. The reason why I brought up 250 days a year in the field and the amount of ammunition we shot is: that’s expensive. To… become really good at this is an expensive proposition, and it requires constant training. You don’t simply go through a quick course and then go back to the garrison and then suddenly be thrown 6 to 8 months later into the field and be expected to– you lived it, you breathed it, you ate it, you slept it. It was your life because that’s the reality. It’s so complex. It is so complex, this is kind of combined arms maneuver warfare. You have to literally make it part of yout DNA.
And we didn’t just forget how to do it; we scooped out that DNA and threw it away. We… embraced, you know, low-intensity conflict. And now we’re looking at the Russians applying combined-arms war in Ukraine. And there’s a growing recognition about– from any military professional that we can’t do that. We don’t know how to do that.
Do you think, Scott, that this was the substance of what Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Ministry of Defense, said to his US counterpart when, unexpectedly, the US Secretary of State for Defence accompanied Biden on the… last bilateral with Putin? Do you think the threat was: we will box you in?
Well. the Russians I don’t think are in the business of making threats. They can imply threats, but the Russians are very sophisticated. I give them a lot of credit. As much as we respect their military, I respect their diplomacy even more. I know Sergei Lavrov. I’ve worked with him. He was at the UN. A very, very clever intelligent diplomat, backed up with a diplomatic corps that is second to none.
No, the Russians don’t do– I mean, again, that’s just one of the things that– when you hear all these people, you know, “Well the Russians are sending a signal, and they’re blunt, and they lie, and they–” No, they don’t. The Russians are sophisticated. The Russians are polite. The Russians give you every opportunity to take the off ramp before it becomes too late. And I think Shoigu was making– I think that the point that he was making is that… there is a military technical component to our solution that we don’t want to have to apply. That we prefer to do this diplomatically,
[to be continued]